The Welcome Corps Expands to Facilitate Sponsorship of Refugee Students by Campus Communities and Higher Education Institutions
July 7, 2023
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Welcome Corps is pleased to announce the launch of the Welcome Corps on Campus, a new targeted education sponsorship initiative that enables U.S. colleges and universities to play a leading role in resettling refugee students. The Welcome Corps on Campus operates under the umbrella of the Welcome Corps, the broader U.S. private sponsorship program that was launched by the U.S. Department of State in January 2023 for refugees admitted through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).
145 diverse institutions and organizations with expertise in higher education, resettlement and refugee rights expressed support for the program, which provides an education pathway to citizenship for refugee students. For a full list, click here.
Through the Welcome Corps on Campus, qualified refugee students can pursue life-changing opportunities to continue their education and build their futures in the United States. The program marks a new era of service opportunities for campus communities—students, faculty, staff and institutional leaders—to support higher education for refugee students forced to flee their homes and leave behind the communities they’ve built.
“We are thrilled to launch the Welcome Corps on Campus, a transformative cornerstone of our private sponsorship program that will support refugees whose opportunity to pursue higher education was cut short. Education is a powerful tool for personal advancement that contributes to the strength of our country. We are grateful to the American people, institutions of higher education, campus communities, and our partners for opening doors for refugee students to reach their full potential,” said Julieta Valls Noyes, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the U.S. Department of State.
A first-of-its kind program for refugee students, the Welcome Corps on Campus links higher education access to resettlement through the USRAP, which provides a path to permanent legal status in the United States. Participating U.S. higher education institutions will enroll refugee students in degree programs, and Campus Private Sponsor Groups will commit to supporting their resettlement through private sponsorship. Together, they will play an instrumental role in refugee students’ journey towards long-term integration in the United States.
Institutions of higher education interested in participating in the Welcome Corps on Campus can learn more and subscribe to program updates at https://welcomecorps.org/campus.
The Welcome Corps on Campus is implemented by a consortium of nonprofit organizations to establish private sponsorship of refugee students at U.S. campuses through the USRAP, in alignment with the goals of the Welcome Corps. Led by the Community Sponsorship Hub, the consortium includes organizations with expertise in higher education and refugee resettlement: Every Campus A Refuge, the Institute of International Education, the National Association of System Heads (NASH), the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, and World University Service of Canada (WUSC).
“This expansion of the Welcome Corps allows higher education communities across the country to take a hands-on role in the welcome, support and integration of refugee students, many who have not only been waiting years for a safe place to call home but also for an opportunity to earn a higher education degree. The Welcome Corps on Campus provides those opportunities and creates new avenues for experiential learning, all while strengthening connections between refugee students and members of the surrounding communities,” said Annie Nolte-Henning, interim executive director of Community Sponsorship Hub.
“Every Campus A Refuge was founded on the firm belief that higher education has a significant role to play in refugee welcome, protection, and integration. Welcome Corps on Campus is a step in the right direction – providing U.S. colleges and universities with the opportunity to directly sponsor refugee students whose access to higher education is incredibly limited if not non-existent. As part of our work over the last 8 years mobilizing colleges and universities to co-sponsor refugees and support their resettlement and integration using campus resources, Every Campus A Refuge has seen the direct impact on everybody involved when a college or university opens its doors to newcomers. From the refugees who experience a stronger beginning in their new home, to the campus community who is transformed by the power of the connections made, to the local community who benefits immensely from the contributions of its newest Americans, Welcome Corps on Campus will be a win-win for all involved,” said Diya Abdo, founder and director of Every Campus A Refuge.
“Welcome Corps on Campus shows what U.S. universities can already do to address a truly global problem. Widening access to higher education for refugees, and at a time when we have the capacity that no other country has, may be the best way we have to avoid a lost generation and make the world we share a less dangerous place,” said Allan Goodman, chief executive officer of IIE Institute of International Education.
“We are thrilled to embark on this groundbreaking partnership with the Welcome Corps to leverage the capacity of public higher education systems in providing training and support to those who need it most. This innovative program builds upon America’s longstanding tradition of providing refuge by creating new opportunities for Americans to directly engage in refugee resettlement. Together, the Welcome Corps and NASH will forge a united front, championing both education and diversity as invaluable assets for our nation’s prosperity,” said Nancy Zimpher, interim executive director of NASH.
“The launch of the Welcome Corps on Campus is a transformative moment to build on the U.S. tradition to advance safety and protection for displaced people; and embrace the drive, excellence, and experiences that refugee students bring. We are thrilled to support this new program. Through participation in Welcome Corps on Campus, campuses around the country will not only provide life-changing access to U.S. higher education and durable protections for refugee students but these institutions will be enriched and transformed by these students and their perspectives. Sponsoring and enrolling refugee students will spur new opportunities for campuses, strengthen our communities, and enhance the national security and economic prosperity of our nation,” said Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.
“As an organization that has been engaged in community sponsorship on postsecondary campuses across Canada for over four decades, we are thrilled to celebrate the launch of Welcome Corps on Campus. It is encouraging to see the many diverse organizations, higher education institutions and networks coming together to support the Welcome Corps initiative and its expansion to campuses across the United States. We look forward to contributing to this project with technical expertise and student identification to support the impact this project will have. This is a significant step forward in increasing long-term, sustainable solutions for refugee youth,” said Chris Eaton, executive director of WUSC.
Colleges and universities have a rich legacy of welcoming refugees, embracing the diversity of perspectives and backgrounds that newcomers bring to America. The Welcome Corps on Campus builds on that tradition and increases the United States’ resettlement capacity while leveraging campus ecosystems as welcoming communities, where refugee students have access not only to education, but also essential resettlement services including housing, healthcare, and social services.
Through the program, colleges and universities will mobilize Campus Private Sponsor Groups–composed of peer students, faculty, and staff–to provide academic, financial, and resettlement assistance to newly arriving refugee students for their first year. Groups will also develop a plan for sustainably supporting refugee students for the reminder of their studies. The Welcome Corps on Campus creates opportunities to welcome refugee students, tapping into the vibrancy of campus communities to guide refugee students in pursuing higher education, make cultural and social connections, and adapt to American life on- and off-campus.
The Welcome Corps is a new program that empowers everyday Americans to come together to privately sponsor refugees, building on our country’s long tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing persecution. Through the Welcome Corps, sponsor groups welcome refugees into local communities and directly assist refugee newcomers as they build new lives in the United States.
The Welcome Corps on Campus leverages the capacity of U.S. higher education institutions to serve as resettlement spaces and academic opportunities for refugee students, foster more diverse and inclusive campuses, and create a sustainable opportunity for colleges and universities to welcome refugee students on their campuses. Campus Private Sponsor Groups consisting of staff, faculty, and students will welcome refugee students and provide them with a softer landing, a supportive community, and set them up for academic and overall success.